This Venice food guide is for you, if you are heading to Venice Italy. Here you will find everything you need to try on your food tour before the end of your journey to make the most of your cultural food trip.
Heading to Venice by car? Read up our road trip guide to Venice!
Table of Contents
🥣 Venetian Cuisine
The local staple in Venice is fish. The port town with its countless islands hold fish and seafood dear and still prepare it frequently in their homes.
Fish and seafoods used to be poor men’s food, yet today they are the most expensive dishes on any menu in Venice.
At it’s high, Venice the city state, ruled much more than today’s city of Venice and its island. They were known as the biggest traders of their time during the medieval ages and Renaissance.
This led to a multitude of cuisines and ingredients finding their way into the plates of the locals of the Veneto region. Especially spices such as black pepper and cinnamon were known to have come first by the route of Venetian traders to Europe from Asia.
Also dried fruits and nuts such as raisins and pine nut are common in some local specialties.
The multicultural influence can still be tasted in the food of the ever so glorious city, Venice!
Cicchetti, also called Cichetti, are small bite-sized finger food appetizers or snacks typical to Venice. They resemble Spanish tapas and are enjoyed pretty much the same way as a side with a drink.
- Boiled egg – cut in half
- Meat pattie
- Fish pattie
- Arancini ragu e piselli – a croquette-like fried ball, prepared with mashed potato and a meat filling
- Arancini prociutto e formaggio – the same thing just with a cheese and ham filling
- Balls with either meat (meatballs), veggies or fish
- small sandwiches
You can eat them with your fingers or with a toothpick. They are usually consumed with local red wine or with an Apéritif such as the Aperol Spritz or Negroni. You can also eat a lot more of them to make it a meal.
Cicchetti are commonly found in local taverns called Bacaro.
🐋 Baccalà Mantecato (Creamed Stockfish)
The stockfish has long a tradition in Venice. A Venetian crew shipwrecked in Norway and learned the technique of drying and soaking dried preserved fish.
The stockfish, known as Baccala in Venice, and not to be confused with cod, is left to soak in water.
It is then fluffed and blended with other ingredients. Olive oil is always added, and some local variations include anchovies or sautéed onions.
This creamed stockfish is then served as a Cicchetti or with fried polenta or bread as a dip.
🐟 Sarde in Saor
This Venetian classic is Venice in one dish. It’s served as a Cicchetti in most Bacaro as an appetizer, but I had to list it separately here because it’s that special!
Fried Sardines are dressed with cooked sweet vinegar flavored onions, raisins, and pine nuts.
This dish came to be thanks to the famous Venetian sailor men, who were the biggest seafarers in the day.
Oily anchovies taste strong and combine well with the sweet onions and raisins. The vinegar brings out the saor, balancing all the flavors. The pine nuts add crunch to your Venetian food experience.
🍚 Risi e Bisi
Risi e Bisi is a rice dish prepared with peas and that’s what the name means in Venetian language (yep, they have their own language!).
It’s a super simple but comforting meal made for everyone, and it can be commonly found it most local Osteria’s (Restaurants) in Venice.
Young spring time green peas are used to make this iconic dish.
🍝 Bigoli in Salsa
Bigoli in Salsa is a classic Venetian pasta dish.
Bigoli is a pasta variety from the region, which was originally made with buckwheat. Today it’s more commonly available made with whole wheat. The pasta resembles Spaghetti by the look.
The Sauce consists of onion and anchovies, adding a distinctive salty fishy taste to this pasta meal.
🍜 Lasagnette con nero di seppia
This particular dish is prepared with spaghetti-like pasta and black cuttlefish or squid ink. It is also called spaghetti or Linguine al nero di seppia.
The lasagnette ribbon pasta are the proper way to make this dish, and you will only find a handful who make it the traditional way in Venice.
You will have to move out of the tourist traps to get to the good stuff!
🥘 Fegato alla veneziana
Fegato alla veneziana is a veal liver (calf liver) specialty from the city.
The liver is finely slices and cooked in oil, onion, salt, pepper, and parsley. White wine, vinegar, or lemon juice are added at the end to balance the other flavors.
The liver specialty is usually served with polenta in Venice and can be found in selected food places and taverns.
Bussolai or Buranei are butter biscuits shaped in a Y or S.
They are from Burano, the colorful island in Venice where they specialize in lace work.
Fritole are fried doughnut-like balls, typically flavored with orange, lemon peel and raisins.
They are most commonly served during carnival seasons and can be bought in local street food stores and Venetian pastry shops on carnival day.
🥙 More Food Specialties to Discover
- Pasta e fazioi – bean soup with long pasta
- Moleche fritte – fried green crabs
- Risotto al nero di Seppia – A black risotto colored with cuttlefish/squid ink.
- Polenta e Schie – Small shrimps served over polenta
- Scampi in busera – A scampi tomato sauce dish served with spaghetti and chili pepper flakes. It resembles the New York dish Shrimp Fra Diavolo.
- fritto misto – Mixed fried seafood.
- Zaleti – yellow semolina cookies
- Galani – may layered fried dough topped with powdered sugar
- San Martino – a short crust pastry in the shape of a knight sitting on a horse
Wine has a long tradition in the city of trade. Seafarers would come back for a break to the mainland and have a sip of wine.
A small quantity of wine is known as ombra in Veneto. So, whenever you go to a Bacaro, you can ask for a ombra rossa (red) or bianca (white) and you will get a small quantity of a glass of wine served.
Most Bacaro have a special red and white wine.
🍹 Aperol Spritz Veneziano
It is said that the Aperol Spritz Veneziano originated from Venice. Hence, why this vibrant drink is also called the Spritz Veneziano.
The Italians are known for their orange skin and spice infused liqueurs called bitters. One of them is the Aperol and another famous bitter is the Campari.
Spritz always means a drink topped with prosecco and club soda. Therefore, the drink consists of Aperol liqueur, prosecco (Italian sparkling wine), club soda and toppings.
The toppings in Venice are always a slice of orange and olives on a toothpick.
It is an iconic thing to do, to sit in the evenings in a local Bacaro with an Aperol Spritz and Cicchetti when in Venice!
The Bellini drink came to be in the popular Harry’s bar in Venice. Ask any locals, it’s an icon!
The pink Bellini consists of peach purée and prosecco (sparkling wine) and it’s served in prosecco glasses.
It’s the perfect drink for you if you want to take it easy in style in Venice.
You can also buy ready-made bottles of Bellini in local small grocery stores in Venice. They make for a perfect gift.
🍸 Other Italian Drinks
- Campari Spritz – bitter-sweet Campari prepared with prosecco, club soda and olives.
- Negroni – Bitter cocktail prepared with vermouth, gin, and Campari.
- Limoncello – bright yellow lemon liqueur. Variations exist such as meloncello with melon.
- Hugo – A spritz variety originating from South Tyrol prepared with elderflower syrup, soda, prosecco and topped with a Hugo mint leaf (an elongated mint variety).
What do Venetians eat for breakfast?
As in most of Italy, people start the day with a shot of espresso coffee and with something sweet. Croissant, Krapfen (filled doughnuts), shortcrust pastries and Pan del Doge are common breakfast items.
Can I do a Food Tour in Venice?
How to avoid Tourist trap restaurants and find authentic eaters?
Search for places located in courtyards away from the hustle and bustle of the seaside or Rialto bridge. Locals hangout in osterias and Bacaro run by Venetians in the evenings. Try to frequent the same places to avoid Tourist traps.
How much is an average meal in Venice?
Expect to spend about €8 to €12 for an average meal in Venice.